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500 turn out for Pfleger’s first summer peace march of 2013

A end School Year march proclaim Peace Streets with Rev. Micheal Pfleger was held Friday night started Saint SabinChurch protest

A end of the School Year march to proclaim Peace in the Streets with Rev. Micheal Pfleger was held on Friday night and started at Saint Sabina Church to protest violence, gangs, and drugs. June 21, 2013. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 23, 2013 6:21AM

When the Rev. Michael Pfleger puts the call out, they come.

Some 500 people turned out Friday night for the first of St. Sabina’s summer peace marches, on the very first day of the summer — preceding an extremely hot and thus potentially violent weekend.

“They say violence is down,” said Pfleger, rallying the crowd before the 7 p.m. march. Then ticking off Chicago’s six-month murder statistics, he concluded, “We aren’t ready to declare victory yet.”

Pfleger spoke from the steps of the church in South Side Auburn-Gresham, surrounded by dignitaries who with his congregation and community answered his call for a stand against violence to kick off the summer.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, was at the march, as were Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp and Operation PUSH’s Jeannette Wilson.

But so were Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton, who lost to violence daughter Hadiya, 15, whose death attracted national attention, Anthanette Marsh Banks, who lost son Archie Chambers, 20, and Cristina Campbell, who lost son Julius.

“We’ve accepted these murders as if it is an ordinary way of life,” Wilson said. “We’re saying to those who would take a life, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore.’ All of these children have parents, both those who are shot and those who are shooting. Parents, we must control our homes.”

The crowd, a sea of blue T-shirts emblazoned with “Peacemakers,” marched from 79th & Racine west to Paulina, south to 81st Street, east to Racine and back to 79th, chanting such slogans as “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!”

“We gotta keep marching and protesting and whatever it takes to stop these murders,” said Michelle Payne, 40, who traveled with friends from Roseland to participate.

At 79th & Ashland, a dividing line for area gangs, the crowd stopped as Pfleger called out the names of all the gangs, followed by, “We love you! You’re our brother! Stop the violence!”

Some of the young men on the corners laughed and smirked. Others, however, nodded, stopped to watch intently, or cast their eyes down.

“We have to let these gangs know what they’re doing isn’t right. Our babies have a right to life, a right to grow up,” said Cristina Campbell, whose 14-year-old son, Julius, in April was found stabbed multiple times and thrown in a lagoon.

“I want them to see me and the other mothers out here, grieving, trying to make sense of it all, trying to figure out how to move on.”

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